You’ve probably seen posts about the Whole30 Diet circulating on social media. That’s because Whole30 encourages participants in the diet to share their stories. Not only does this keep them accountable, but it also helps them to find encouragement from fellow dieters. But what exactly is Whole30? And why is it all over your social media feeds?
What Is Whole30?
This program revolves around 30 days of clean eating. The program promises that if you try clean eating for just 30 days, it’ll change your relationship with food. According to Whole30, certain foods negatively impact your mental and physical health. Some of these food include sugar, grains, dairy and legumes. So, rather than counting calories, you simply focus on eating foods that are good for your health.
What Can I Eat?
There are pretty specific rules as to what you cannot eat. The number-one food group on the list is sugar, whether real or artificial — including substitutes like stevia and honey. The program also doesn’t allow for alcohol or tobacco. Grains, legumes, and dairy? Also not allowed. Don’t panic, though — that’s just for 30 days. If you feel stuck and unsure of what you can eat, Whole30 has a list of approved foods and brands, as well as their own meal plans.
What Are the Benefits?
This diet sounds a little extreme, but the program promises a vast variety of benefits. For one, it’s only 30 days to clean out your body and allow yourself to start fresh with a new mentality with food. After those 30 days, it’s not necessary to be as restrictive with your food choices, but you can keep the lessons learned from Whole30 in mind. Some of the benefits listed on Whole30’s website are weight loss, improvement to body composition, high energy levels, improved athletic performance, better sleep, improved focus andmental clarity, and a sunnier disposition.
If you’re struggling to get started on your Whole30 journey, you can try one of Market Table’s salads, Light Lunchboxes, or frittatas — just ask for it without cheese. We even have meal kits to help you cook healthy food at home. If you see anything else on the menu that looks good but doesn’t meet the Whole30 requirement, we can help you find a substitute.
Text by Katherine Polcari
Many of us were taught that humans can sense four tastes: salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. But did you know that there are actually seven tastes? And ongoing research suggests there may even be an eighth.
This is the simplest of the tastes. Salt is actually the compound sodium chloride, which is necessary for the human body. That’s because it regulates fluids and creates nerve impulses. Humans perceive it as warming, soothing and drying. Any foods with sodium chloride are perceived as salty. Examples include soy sauce, celery, baking soda/powder, seaweed and olives.
Sweetness indicates the presence of sugars in foods, along with certain proteins. The sweet taste is pleasurable to most people, except in excess. It is calming and relaxing. Also, the tongue may perceive it as moist. Common foods that taste sweet are sugar, cinnamon, dill, honey, butter, wheat, almonds, carrots and avocado.
Sour tastes let us know that there are acids in certain foods. This stimulates the digestive system, metabolism and appetite, but, as an added bonus, can also relieve gas. Citrus fruits are the most common sour fruits. Other sour foods include yogurt, sour cream, tomatoes, vinegar, goat cheese, pickles and sauerkraut.
The bitter taste receptors identify bases in foods. Humans taste bitterness so that we may avoid naturally toxic substances, most of which taste bitter. Because of this, it is the taste we are most sensitive to. In fact, we are so sensitive that many perceive bitter foods to be unpleasant, sharp or disagreeable. Some bitter foods include coffee, unsweetened cocoa and citrus peel. Quinine, found in tonic water, is also quite bitter.
This flavor is often described as “savory” or “meaty.” Salt magnifies the taste, which is why adding salt to a tomato amplifies the flavor. Umami-rich foods include Parmesan cheese, miso, soy sauce, mushrooms, walnuts, grapes and broccoli. To a lesser degree, it’s also found in meats.
This taste is in addition to the basic five tastes that humans perceive. Astringent foods contain tannins, which constrict organic tissue. It causes a puckering sensation that may also be described as rubbery, styptic, dry or rough. In addition, it may be described as harsh when found in wine, or tart, in sour foods. The astringent flavor is found in tea, unripe fruit, nutmeg, rosemary, green apples, spinach and lentils.
The pungent taste is perceived as dry heat. It can boost metabolism and circulation, aid digestion and reduce body fat. Pungent foods include basil, chili powder, all hot peppers, ginger, peppermint, cayenne, horseradish, onion and garlic.
An Eighth Taste?
Since the 1800s, there have been arguments over whether or not fat is another taste that humans can perceive. The theory is that humans developed it in order to ensure we got enough high fat during times of food scarcity. In 2005, French researchers discovered that rats do have the taste receptor for fat. It is still unclear whether humans do, but it is clear that fatty foods like French fries are absolutely delicious.
Text by Jennie Tippett
On May 10th, Market Table will host a wine tasting to benefit PreSchool Partners, a Birmingham school that works to provide a high-quality early education to underserved families. PreSchool Partners was started 23 years ago, and it’s only continued to grow. According to their website, during the 2017-18 school year alone, PreSchool Partners serves 180 people, 90 children and 90 parents.
“We are able to see our students come full circle as they succeed as college grads, professionals in the community, and as highly ranked service members,” says PreSchool Partners’ Director of Development, Stephanie Pressley.
The success of this school comes from the dedicated staff and parents. A unique aspect of PreSchool Partner’s education is that parents are required to go to a class once a week for their child to receive reduced tuition. “Research shows that parent involvement is an indicator of academic success,” Pressley says. “Our parents attend a weekly parent program focus on giving them the tools that will support their child’s learning process as well as resources to help advance them personally.”
According to PreSchool Partner’s website, some of the topics covered during the Parent Program include anger management, nutrition, child development, dealing with temper tantrums and money management. Parents are also able to participate in “Families Reading Together.” This program provides parents with a book each week so that they can read with their children. Also, a trained instructor facilities the reading to help the child develop their reading skills.
All of these incredible programs require donations to keep them running. And is there any better way to donate than by attending a wine tasting event?
“We are all about community and we think that Market Table’s values align with ours,” Pressley says. “Money raised at the event will go directly to our program. With every $1,000, we are able to provide a deserving family with their school year tuition.”
The wine tasting will start and 6:00 and go until 8:00. Tickets are only $20. You’ll get to taste 4 wines — and you’ll get two full glasses of the wine of your choice as well. The proceeds from every ticket go directly to PreSchool Partners. Additionally, during the event, all wine bottles will be 20% off.
If you can’t make it to the wine tasting event, there are several other ways to support PreSchool Partners. For more information, visit preschool-partners.org.
Text by Katherine Polcari
The international avocado market blew up from 2012-2016. In fact, the exports increased as much as 30% in some areas — and no, it’s not just because of Millennials and their avocado toast. Here’s why the fruit (yes, we said fruit!) is so sought-after.
First: A Little U.S. History
In 1914, the US banned the import of Mexican avocados into the continental United States as a way to stop the seed weevil from destroying American farms. The California Avocado Grower’s Exchange began growing and selling the fruit instead. However, they couldn’t keep up with the demand of the whole country. For decades, only states on the west coast with fresh fruit markets were able to enjoy the creamy fruit.
What’s in a Name?
In the years following the ban, the fruit became known as “alligator pears.” The thick skin was bumpy and various shades of green, like the reptile, and the shape was that of a pear. The California Avocado Grower’s Exchange worked to change the name to avocado, thinking that the exoticism of the name would lend to its reputation as a luxury fruit.
In 1997, the US started to slowly lift the ban. But there were still hurdles to overcome. Many Americans didn’t understand how to properly eat an avocado. So, the growers launched a campaign to educate Americans. One of the best facets of this campaign was the Super Bowl/Guacamole Bowl recipe contest. The growers’ PR firm asked various NFL teams for their best guac recipes. The firm suggested that the best recipe might predict the winner of the Super Bowl. The plan worked, and Americans fell in love with guacamole. In fact, we consume 8 million pounds of it every Super Bowl Sunday.
Study after study confirms that the avocado is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Just a 3.5 ounce serving contains Vitamins K, C, B5, B6, E, A, B1, B2 and B3. It also contains other nutrients, like folate, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc and phosphorus. There are 160 calories in this one serving, with only 2 grams of net carbs, 15 grams of healthy fats and 2 grams of protein.
All of these nutrients lead to different health benefits. Avocados promote weight loss. They contain low amounts of saturated fat and curb hunger. The fruit improves overall heart health by lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Avocados also have anti-aging benefits from being packed with antioxidants. And they even improve eye health.
Let’s Have a Toast
Chefs love to use avocados in recipes. Their creaminess is great for balancing acidity or spice. The avocado flavor is delicate enough not to overwhelm any other ingredients.
And, of course, there’s avocado toast. It’s a simple, filling snack or breakfast food that is quick to prepare and scrumptious to boot. Add salt, pepper, olive oil and whatever other topping you’d like. A fried or soft-boiled egg would be perfect. Or if it’s too early to think about making your own, swing by Market Table for a breakfast featuring our tasty avocado toast.
From the way sales have increased each year, it is clear that, when it comes to the avocado, Americans have no problem in making up for lost time.
Text by Jennie Tippett
Superfoods: the name sounds heroic because these foods actually do have the power to save your body! But what makes superfoods so super? Here is everything you need to know.
You probably already eat them daily.
Most people aren’t aware that their diet includes superfoods unless they search for the word on Google. Superfoods include salmon, beans and turkey, just to name a few. This grouping of foods isn’t exclusive or rare. They’re merely nutrient dense. Superfoods contain dietary fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Consider superfoods a treat for your tastebuds, your body and your soul.
Kale isn’t the only leafy green.
Superfoods rose to popularity after the world discovered the power of kale. However, other leafy greens like spinach, collards and cabbage are also on the list. Here at Market Table, we offer delicious dishes like our Kale, Quinoa and Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl or our Kale and Romaine Caesar Salad. If you’re interested in branching out to other super-delicious leafy greens, try our Bacon, Egg, Spinach and Tomato Bowl or our Hamm Farm Collard Slaw.
Market Table’s Kale, Quinoa, Roasted Sweet Potato Bowl with Feta.
Don’t let the “super” fool you.
You may think that superfoods are expensive and exotic fruits and vegetables. However, the term “superfood” can relate to anything that’s good for you. There’s no particular section on the food pyramid for these foods. In fact, most doctors and nutritionist consider “superfoods” a marketing term. Anyone, anywhere can incorporate these items into their daily diet.
Variety is key.
Variety can genuinely be the spice of life when you are creating a healthy lifestyle. From quinoa to blueberries to steak, there are many varieties of superfoods. It may surprise you that even popcorn and dark chocolate fall on the list. From egg scrambles to sandwiches to salads, Market Table‘s dishes feature a delicious variety of superfoods.
Market Table’s Grilled Chicken, Romesco, Quinoa, Sautéed Kale & Chickpeas
You’ll probably feel empowered.
Having a banana can feel refreshing, but not because you’ll gain Hulk-like strength. The power comes from your body finally getting all of the nutrients it needs. Plus, a superfood a day can keep the doctor away: some help with diabetes or weight loss.
Now that the idea of eating superfoods isn’t scary, incorporate them into daily life. With so many options, there are countless opportunities for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you’re looking for ideas, Market Table‘s recipes, prepared foods and meal kits — not to mention the breakfast and lunch options served in our café — will send you in the right direction.
Text by Jazelyn Little
What’s meal prepping? The idea is simple: you plan and prepare ingredients for the coming week’s meals. This could be as small as cutting veggies or as much as making a whole meal beforehand. It’s a simple and easy way to make meals effortless — and it’s easy to get started.
If you want to start meal prepping, planning is key. Put together recipes for the meals you want to eat this week. Make a list of the ingredients you’ll need. Go grocery shopping in advance, perhaps on a Saturday so there’s no pressure. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your ingredients. For instance, if you get a can of beans that’s more than one serving, try finding a good way to use the rest. This article offers ten options for leftover beans.
Cover the basics
Once you have recipes and ingredients, do as much in advance as you can. Cut vegetables, season meat and put whatever you can into food storage containers. A good rule of thumb: prepare the ingredients enough so that the actual meal only takes ten minutes to make. That way, you’re not taking up too much time or effort and you’re eating well. Ideally, you can just microwave one bowl and eat it. Sometimes that doesn’t work out, but as long as your meals are easier to make, then you’re benefiting from meal prepping.
Prep for your health
Prepping is a great way to make cooking easier, but also to make meals healthier. Try making a larger meal for lunch. Make your dinner simple and healthy. This is a great way to stay fit. Your body is better at digesting and burning off what you eat for lunch since you do more after eating. Use a template to keep yourself motivated and prevent burn-out while scheduling recipes. Also, plan for nights you want to eat out or to use leftovers from another meal. Try to have a few back-up recipes that you can make with no hassle in case your meal prep gets ruined. It happens to everybody!
Make the most out of it
The great thing about meal prepping is that you don’t have to do it all yourself. Here at Market Table, we do the prep for you with our Light Lunchboxes. Not only are they delicious, but they can fit any diet. Our Southwest Chicken Burrito Bowl is packed with flavor and it’s gluten-free. The Cilantro Lime Chicken with Cauliflower Rice makes for a tasty paleo– or Atkins-friendly meal. You can pre-order our Light Lunchboxes by Wednesday at 6 p.m. and pick them up on Sunday. And if you need a fast, last-minute meal fix, we’ll always have some options in-store.
Text by Cameron Sullivan
Changing your eating habits may sound like a big undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you have to give up you favorite foods. Instead, just throw in some healthy alternatives. They’ll still hit the spot — and food blogs do all of the hard work for you. The writers have already tested the recipes, and they’re here to help you kickstart your journey to healthy eating. Here are five of our favorite healthy food blogs.
Kelsey Boyte, the writer of Happy Yolks, offers insight into her life with each blog post. There are lots of tidbits about her husband, who does all of the blog’s photography. As an added bonus, Boyte writes about her dog, who sits happily at her feet during the whole cooking process. This blog is filled with detailed, beautiful pictures and a lot of feel-good recipes. There’s even an option where you can click on your favorite ingredient and a list of recipes will pop up.
A Couple Cooks
Another husband and wife duo created A Couple Cooks. Soja Overhiser writes the posts and her husband, Alex, does the photography. The couple is very honest about their own experiences, including Soja’s cancer and miscarriage. Healthy recipes, cookbooks and podcasts are all available on their website. Each recipe also includes a list of healthy facts about the dish. They even have an entire section of recipes dedicated to desserts! Healthy food doesn’t have to exclude chocolate, especially when you can use vegan substitutes.
Oh She Glows
Angela Liddon started making healthy foods to help recover from an eating disorder, which also inspired her new plant-based diet. She writes that she had always struggled with either binging or starving herself, but, when she started to experiment with new recipes, her relationship with food changed. Angela used her husband as her inspiration when making healthy foods. Since he’s an avid fast-food lover, she knew that if she made a healthy dish that her husband loved, everyone would love it.
Eating Bird Food
Besides the perfectly sarcastic blog title, Eating Bird Food offers more than healthy recipes. You’ll find healthy exercise routines on the blog, too. Brittany Mullins started the blog after finding a healthy way to lose weight. She shares her story about the benefits of clean eating as well as strength training. A pescatarian for 6 years, Mullins writes that she now sees the value in including lean meats in her diet. Now she strives to find a healthy balance rather than cutting out an entire food group.
The Domestic Man
The writer of The Domestic Man, Russ Crandall, found out that he had an autoimmune disease when he had a stroke at age 24. After years of different medications and one potentially fatal surgery, Crandall found that a paleo diet helped to reverse some autoimmune symptoms. Crandall said that he finally felt like he was in control again. Crandall’s blog looks a little different than others because he doesn’t limit himself to just lean meats or plant-based foods. His recipes are a great way to start dipping your toes into the diverse choices of healthy food diets.
Text by Katherine Polcari
Grocery stores tend to keep the customers’ favorite produce in-store year-round, but that doesn’t mean that produce is fresh. In fact, most fruits and vegetables only grow during a particular season. When you eat produce in season, it’ll taste fresh and flavorful. As an added bonus, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint in the process. Here’s a list of the fruits and veggies in season this spring.
The best time to buy apricots is May to July. Look for apricots that have a golden color and are firm to the touch. To ripen an apricot, you can leave it in a paper bag at room temperature. If it’s already ripe, it’ll last for a couple of days if stored in a fridge. Apricot is a sweet fruit with a hint of sour, so it’s a great option for desserts like pies and cobblers. It also pairs well with more savory combinations like crème fraîche or as a salsa.
Even though strawberries are known as a summer fruit, they’re in season during late spring. Strawberries are best from May to July. The best berries will be a bright red and have fresh green caps. Once you buy strawberries, it’s best to eat them within two or three days. To make them stay fresh a little bit longer, spread out the berries in a airtight container and keep it in the fridge. You probably know how delicious strawberries are in jams or smoothies. However, strawberries are more versatile than you think. Try adding them to pizza or a cucumber salad.
Asparagus is in season from March to June. When picking asparagus in the grocery store, look for firm stalks with closed tips. Unfortunately, once asparagus is picked, it quickly loses its flavor. If you were planning on making a recipe with asparagus later on in the week, store it in the fridge and wrap a damp paper towel around the bottom of the stalks. Still, the flavor is best if you eat it the same day that you buy it. While it’s fresh, grill the asparagus and cover it with olive oil, parmesan cheese and garlic. You can also get a little bit more adventurous and make an asparagus tart.
The best time to eat rhubarb is from April to August. When choosing rhubarb, look for crisp and firm stalks that have a lot of color. Luckily, rhubarb can be stored for around a week or two in the fridge. It also freezes well if you don’t eat your rhubarb within those two weeks. There’s always the classic rhubarb pie, but with such a strong tart flavor, rhubarb goes great in a variety of desserts.
While artichokes can be grown year-round, they taste best if they are harvested from March to May. Fresh artichokes have a good color and tightly-closed leaves. If you need to store an artichoke, add a little bit of water to the leaves and place it in a plastic bag to keep in the fridge. There are several different ways to prepare artichoke, but first you have to figure out how to deconstruct and cook it. Once you get past that, you can use artichokes for dip, grilled cheeses, pesto and more.
If you want to eat seasonally but don’t feel like cooking, let Market Table do the cooking for you! From our fresh cafe salads and sandwiches to our meal kits and prepared foods, we strive to bring only the freshest ingredients to your and your family’s plates.
Text by Katherine Polcari
With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, it’s a great time to try some Irish cuisine. Most Irish foods rely heavily on potatoes and hearty meats, so there are sure to be some comfort foods that everyone in your family will love.
A traditional shepherd’s pie is made with minced lamb or mutton, vegetables and mashed potato. However, when the dish originated, the meat was often whatever leftovers were available to scrounge together. Shepherd’s Pie was created to be economical and was known as a poor man’s dish. It has now become a staple in Irish cuisine and its popularity has spread across the globe. Try Gordon Ramsay’s recipe for a traditional shepherd’s pie.
Barmbrack or Brack
This traditional bread is also known as speckled bread because it’s filled with raisins. Barmbrack is sweet and is commonly served with coffee. There’s a fun tradition that goes along with Barmbrack if it’s served on Halloween. The bread has a hidden pea, stick, cloth, coin and ring. Each item has a meaning assigned to it. For instance, if you get the slice of Barmbrack with a ring in it, then it means that you’ll be married within the year.
Colcannon is a mashed potato dish with kale or cabbage mixed into it, and it’s often then served with boiled ham. There’s even a traditional Irish song dedicated to Colcannon because it’s a common comfort food in Ireland. Colcannon is also a part of Irish Halloween traditions, where it’s common to hide a ring, thimble or coin in the dish. Whoever finds the prizes gets to keep them.
The Great Famine hit Ireland in 1845, which caused for a lot of Irish recipes to use all parts of the animals in their meals. There are several recipes that call for pig’s blood, pig’s feet or kidneys. While it was common during the famine to use all parts of the pig, most Coddle recipes today just include sausage, bacon and potato. Coddle can include barley and Guinness, but this also isn’t as common anymore.
In 1990, an Irish man, John Lucey, set out to create a new cheese. When Lucey originally created the cheese, he named it “Aralgen.” It’s described as having the sharpness of a mature cheddar with the sweetness of parmigiano. In 1994, Dubliner earned its new name as commercial production began. It’s common to include Dubliner on a cheese board or use it to make grilled cheese sandwiches.
While not everyone is brave enough to try a traditional Irish dish like Skirts and Kidneys, there are several tamer options for those of us looking to eat conventional meat options. No one can deny that a meal of mashed potatoes, sausage and beer sounds delicious, so try making your own version of an Irish classic to celebrate St. Patrick’s day with a good hearty meal.
Text by Katherine Polcari
For a beginning chef, cooking a steak is a difficult challenge to get over. Questions like Should I season my steak or How long is too long to grill a steak often pop up before preparation. From prep to table, cooking a steak can be as simple and delicious as you want it to be!
Before tossing a steak on the grill or stove, there are a couple of important steps. First, take note of the thickness of the piece of meat. That will determine how long it will take to cook — and how to cook it well. Also, be sure to season the meat lightly. If you want the flavor of the steak itself to stand out, a little salt and pepper would be your best bet. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, an herb rub will spice up your life. If you’re cooking on stovetop, oil isn’t needed. Oiling a steak inhibits the browning necessary for that scrumptious outer layer.
Time to Toss Your Steak on the Grill Or Stove
Above all, steak needs to be cooked hot and fast. If on a stove top, the steak should be turned about once every minute. This creates that brown, caramelized crust. And the crust is what makes that flavorful, prime steak you’re looking for. During this turning process, add herbs like thyme and rosemary. These herbs enhance the flavor of the steak as well. Check out this list of culinary herbs that taste great with red meat — and are easy to grow in your garden or even your kitchen.
When Is Done Done Right?
Now that the steak is sizzling, how do you know when to take it off the heat? Well, that depends on how you want your steak to be cooked. Since it’s easy to overcook a steak, determining its doneness is important. Doneness relates to temperature. A probe thermometer is your best bet for determining the internal temperature of the steak.
Now, you’ve all heard terms related to doneness: rare, medium rare, and so forth. But what exactly do these terms mean? And how do you know when a steak has reached the desired doneness? Here’s a quick and easy thumbnail guide:
Rare – Cooked from 120-125 Fahrenheit. This is a steak that is brown on the edges and bright red inside. If you’re nervous about food safety, you might want to move up to the next level.
Medium Rare – Cooked from 130-140 Fahrenheit. This steak has a thick brown coat on the outside. Also, it should redden towards the center and house a band of pink. This is the chef’s recommended level of doneness. That’s because it is cooked thoroughly but not overcooked. In other words, it’s cooked just enough to preserve the steak’s flavor.
Medium – Cooked from 140-150 Fahrenheit. This steak is firmly brown on the outer layer with a small band of pink on the inside. It is firm to the touch as well. This steak is cooked through enough to please most eaters.
Well Done – Cooked from 160 Fahrenheit and up. This is a popular steak request. However, many chefs think that cooking a steak to this temperature leads to a loss of flavor. Still, many people prefer their steaks well done.
To Rest Or Not to Rest?
This is a big debate among steak fans. Some prefer to let the steak rest before slicing into it. Some prefer to cut it into strips straight out of the pan. Either way, cutting the steak across the grain is paramount. This makes the steak easier to chew.
Is your mouth watering now? If you’re ready to try your hand at making the perfect steak, head to Market Table for our premium cuts of meat. Our Seared Flank Steak meal kits do the prep work for you. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, our Steak and Blue Cheese Salad will do the trick.
Text by Jonathon Page